A few months ago I speculated on how an Obama victory might affect how we remember our Civil War. I suggested that the election of our first black president (regardless of political affiliation) would present us with an opportunity to remember and commemorate aspects of the war that have traditionally been downplayed, if not ignored entirely. Obama himself has encouraged this by voicing his admiration for Doris K. Goodwin’s book, along with a recent visit to the Lincoln Memorial, and plans to follow part of the route that Lincoln took in March 1861. Now we hear that reenactors with the 54th Massachusetts will march in the inaugural parade. Millions of Americans will learn about the history and significance of these soldiers without any of the distraction associated with so-called black Confederates (Confederate slaves). I couldn’t be happier for the members of the units who will take part because I know first hand what it means to them.
Obama and Civil War Memory
Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth
“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History